If you are one of the millions of consumers who had private and personal information stolen from the Equifax breach, you might be entitled to file a claim to collect restitution. But do you know how to spot a fraudulent email containing a link for filing a claim versus the real deal? If not, you could be putting your financial security in peril.

What Does Equifax do?

One of the most significant factors to financial success is your credit rating. Since your credit score can affect whether you can borrow money, your rate of interest, and how financially secure you are, keeping it clean and minimizing debt is critical. When you take out a loan, financial institutions rely on credit rating agencies to gauge a borrower’s risk of repayment by using a score calculated by several personal factors. Equifax is one of the major players that compiles personal and financial information about people to help lenders minimize risk.

Was Your Information Compromised?

You don’t have much control over what Equifax knows and distributes about your financial health. That is why Equifax’s security hack was such an egregious breach of trust. In May of 2017, over 143 million Americans’ privacy was invaded when Equifax’s databases were hacked.  Although millions of people’s social security numbers, home addresses, and birth dates were compromised, the outcry was not as great as it should have been. And if you didn’t hear about the incident, you are not alone. But what you do need to be aware of is two things. One, your information may have fallen into the wrong hands. And, two, you may soon be the target of a settlement scam that will only leave you more vulnerable. 

Equifax Breach two Years ago Becomes A Hacker’s newest Scam!

Equifax admitted that a breach happened in May, but they didn’t go public with the information until July of 2017. The company went on record stating that hackers had, “exploited a website application vulnerability”. It wasn’t just an American audience that the hackers had access to, as both British and Canadian consumers were involved too. The information that was stolen had enough ingredients to make you vulnerable to identity theft and other crimes, according to several sources. Not only were birthdates, social security numbers, and addresses stolen, but there were countless driver’s licenses and other credit dispute documents that were part of the theft. Not only did the company refuse to answer questions related to the extent of the theft; they waited nearly six weeks post-incident to come clean to the public. 

Equifax Reaches a Settlement 

Fast forward almost two years, and Equifax has finally reached a $700 million settlement. They have agreed to reimburse those who have fallen prey to hackers due to their failure to secure the data collected on peoples’ financials. And if you are one of the millions of consumers who had their personal information stolen, you might be entitled to a portion of the settlement money. To collect, you have to fill out a settlement claim. But unfortunately, filing a claim to collect might put you back in a vulnerable spot. Scammers are now targeting the victims of the breach.

Scammers are Using Fake Websites and Emails to Target Victims

Hackers seeking to cash in on victims who want to be reimbursed for the mistake are crafting fake websites and seeking to take advantage of consumers further. So, if you have heard about the settlement and are considering filing, you must protect yourself by approaching it with a cautious eye. You can do that by being certain you are filing a real, not fraudulent, claim. Otherwise, you are making yourself a target for identity theft once again. The only way to ensure that you are safe is by following the steps below.

Steps to File a Claim With Equifax

  1. To file a claim against the settlement go directly to the Federal Trade Commission’s official website at www.ftc.gov
  2. Next go to “file your Equifax claim”
  3. Click on the blue button saying “file a claim”
  4. Then, click the green button saying “file a claim online”

Do NOT!

If you receive an email altering you that you are entitled to file, do NOT follow any link. It is a scam. And once you open the website and give your information, you will have comprised your personal data. But it isn’t just about being individually targeted. If you simply Google to file a claim, you might be directed to a fake site. Don’t assume that since it came up first in a query, it is reputable. The ONLY website that is accepting claims is the Federal Trade Commission website, period. 

Know how to spot a Fraudulent Email

So, are you one of the millions of Americans who had their data compromised? Navigate to www.ftc.gov to see. But do not believe any email that has a call to action guiding you to a website other than the Federal Trade Commission… or any email with a link at all! Equifax is not actively seeking to have people sign up! There are all sorts of ways that hackers attempt to get your personal information. And unfortunately, their tactics continue to become more conniving and target those most vulnerable. Our mission at Cross Link Consulting is to give you the tools to ensure that you aren’t falling prey to any who seek to take advantage. Contact us today if you have a questions about how to spot a fraudulent email of any type. We are here to help!